There are many preconceived perceptions in regards to resistance training with youth. Most of these connotations are against strength training for youth. Whether it’s people spouting out that it will stunt children’s growth, they’ll hurt themselves, or that their bodies aren’t ready for that type of training.
It’s understandable for parents to worry about their child’s development and try to protect them in anyway possible. Also, many studies done about resistance training are geared towards adults. We simply didn’t have the facts for a long time so we went with what we thought was best for childhood development. As training has started earlier and earlier with parents looking to give their child a competitive edge, we see more studies about the effects of resistance training in youth.
There are many benefits in strength training for youth. Studies over the last few decades have shown resistance training in children to be effective in eliciting strength gains in both pre- and post-pubertal athletes.
These strength gains significantly improve running, jumping, and throwing performance in children and adolescents. Therefore, they improve sport specific performance.
These effects go beyond sports performance. They engage kids at an early age and promote a healthy lifestyle by laying foundational movement patterns and providing children with a portion of their prescribed amount of weekly exercise. Children need a variance of exercise to ensure they are well rounded in health and fitness.
We can see through recent studies that strength training showed no hindrance on grow in adolescents or youth. In fact, physiologically, muscle fitness is associated with decreased adiposity, improved bone health and a reduction of metabolic risk factors. There is even an increase in cognitive function when strength training is added to youth training. There is a positive effect on both the body and brain by incorporating resistance training.
As with adults, there are injury risks associated with weight training. Therefore, applying resistance training with kids should be done with the same consideration as adults. Trainers should minimize risk and develop adaptations by constantly teaching safe and efficient movement. This is laid out by instilling mechanics and having the athlete demonstrate consistency with mechanics. High rep with light load is what ensures this in the safest manner. Once kids have shown consistency, then intensity(load) can be added.
Whether the goal is toward general fitness or optimal performance in a sport, the hope is that physical activity remains an integral part of their lives. Resistance training is a part of life time fitness. This associated with the benefits of resistance training in youth should show everyone the importance of training children of all ages.